The Applications of Nature in Ecotheraputic Practice

Have you ever been stuck on a big problem at work, only to go on a walk and find that the answer just pops into your head? That’s only a small part of the amazing power that spending time in nature holds. Alongside talking therapies, aromatherapy and other therapeutic methods, nature therapy is an effective tool to promote wellness and mental clarity. If this article’s interested you in taking a deeper dive (forest bathing pun intended!) then have a look at our course here.

Ecotherapy may also be known by different names such as ‘nature therapy’, ‘nature assisted therapy’, ‘green care’ or ‘green therapy’. Regardless, ecotherapy is the practice of ecopsychology which we shall come to shortly.

Ecopsychology and ecotherapy are relatively new concepts in the field of psychology and counselling. Ecotherapy may be used by psychologists, counsellors, and other health professionals.

According to Roszak, ecotherapy is the “skilful application of ecological insights to the practice of psychotherapy.” He emphasised the discovery of our emotional bond with the planet and considered sanity in terms of relation to the whole world.

He sought to understand humankind’s interrelationship with the non-human world so that pathways to healing could be based on flaws in that interrelationship.

Ecotherapy is much broader than this though, and there are numerous applications of ecotherapy. For this reason, some have proposed that ‘green care’ be used as an all-encompassing term to cover all types of nature assisted therapy.

Nevertheless, ecotherapy remains the most widely used term and it can be applied to any therapeutic activities that draw on plants, animals, or landscapes.

Some examples include:

Horticultural Therapy: This involves undertaking gardening activities for physical and/or psychological wellbeing, either as formal guided therapy sessions, or as informal activity.

Wilderness Therapy: This involves interacting with nature in remote, natural environments with a view to bringing about improved wellbeing and perhaps self-discovery.

Animal Assisted (or Pet) Therapy: There are many animal centred activities that can provide therapeutic benefits; promoting wellbeing and self-esteem Examples include companion animal visits, riding for the disabled, farm and zoo visits.

Forest Bathing: This developed across the late 20th century in Japan, where it has become recognised by mainstream health services. It can involve meditative two or three-hour sessions led by trained forest bathing therapists. It can also involve less structured informal visits to forests.

Ecotherapy can also be having traditional counselling therapy in a green space, exercising in a green space, or simply taking in views of green spaces. As you move through this course you will broaden and deepen your understanding of nature therapies or ecotherapies.

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